Tuesday June 13th is Men's Mental Health Day and just a week later is Father’s Day on Sunday June the 21st. As a therapist and a father this is an important week for me. Both of these days help remind me how cool it is to be a dad to four children and how cool it is to provide therapy to men, and especially new dads.
I am also reminded of the special challenges that men experience and many of the societal and self-inflicted barriers that keep men from getting the mental health they need. I have fallen into similar excuses such as, “I’ll be fine” “I will just call tomorrow” or “others have it worse than me.”
Therapists often have specialties and I jokingly say that mine is when men say "my spouse/partner/parent told me to go to therapy." I also joke about regularly working with men who often recommend therapy for friends and loved ones but have not taken their own advice. Whatever the circumstances, meeting a therapist can be a daunting task.
I admittedly have allowed similar excuses to keep me from taking care of my own mental health. I do know that when I did take the risk of reaching out, I was really glad I did.
During this week...and every other week, I want men to hear that their mental/emotional well-being is important and worth tending too. Most father’s pride themselves on being willing to do anything for their family...as long as it does not involve their own therapy.
I find it amusing that men will often be very willing to take on the world for their families and be terrified of working on the world within. Men pride themselves on being strong and protective. What would it be like for men to be strong and protective of their own mental health?
If someone is willing to take first steps...or is being “encouraged” by someone who cares about them to reach out for support, I have some ideas below that might make starting therapy a bit easier.
1) Therapy is what you want it to look like. Although a therapist may bring up issues that they believe are important, you as the client are ultimately in the driver's seat. If you want to talk about work, school, spouse, or your significant other, that is up to you. If you are not ready...or even disagree, you can let them know.
2) Therapy can be just as much about sharing a good laugh as it is to cry. Much of therapy is about sharing space with someone who is skilled at helping them heal and making them understood. Cry when you are ready...if not, that is okay too. The therapist will meet you where you are.
3) Therapy can last as long as you want. Although length of therapy may vary, many clients find relief after the first session and can find resolution a few sessions after. Therapy can be ended at any time. Sometimes you may meet with someone that may be wonderful for others but is not the fit for you.
As a therapist who specializes working with men who are ambivalent and wary of therapy or discussing mental health issues generally, I find most (if not all men) enjoy the experience and benefited from having a confidential person talk to. I would be happy to be that person or I would be happy to connect you to someone who can.
9362 Teddy Lane Suite 206
Lone Tree CO 80124